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Letters to the Editor

Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2002

When fishing goes sour, there's still plenty of things to see, do

I have lived in Alaska for 33 years. Most of my time was spent in Southeast Alaska, where the fishing for kings, coho and halibut was awesome. We also had tourists, only they traveled most of the time on cruise lines to our fine city. A numbered few traveled the Alaska Marine Highway, but you get the idea.

Tourist dollars meant a lot to our little community, just as it does here in Kenai-Soldotna. The guides in Southeast Alaska were faced with the same sorts of closures for salmon, if the numbers weren't great, they had to put off their fishing. Most tourists were happy to go do other things when this happened, however, and didn't mind having to change their plans. Maybe they were a different brand of tourist, coming off the cruise ships, I don't know.

The closure of the Kenai River shouldn't be looked at so grimly. If I were a tourist, coming to Alaska to sportfish, and that was my only plan, I sure as heck would be constantly checking the fish return stats daily, checking online and, lastly, calling the Department of Fish and Game office that's located where I plan to go.

These tourists who are complaining, because now they can't fish the glorious Kenai

River for kings, are acting like children who get scolded and run away. If you're going the gamut, and traveling hundreds, possibly thousands of miles to come here, and that was your only plan, don't you think you should keep up with the tallies of salmon? If anything, to avoid being told "sorry, no more king fishing on the river" when you arrive.

That is not our fault, folks, it's poor vacation planning on your behalf. I think we do a pretty darn good job of taking care of our salmon returns. We cannot, however, control nature. If the tourists can't take the good with the bad, then let them go home. Those numbered few who get mad and go away are going to do nothing but badmouth our state when they go home anyhow, instead of placing the blame where it belongs, in their lap!

After all, there are literally hundreds of things to do in Alaska, and most of it doesn't mean spending time casting a line for salmon. If you absolutely want nothing other than fishing, go trout fishing! Collect your data early, and figure out the times that are open around your vacation. Do other things! Go flightseeing and camping, visit new areas you haven't seen before, the list is endless!

Our guides need to plan for the worst, and if it happens the runs are great and the tourist dollars are rolling in, go with it! If it takes a turn for the bad, and they close the Kenai as they had to this year, maybe guides can get together with a flightseeing company as a joint venture (so they also can make a profit), and take their clients on a breathtaking tour of the volcanoes or glaciers we have right at our disposal. Or rafting! Do something!

I don't have to tell you all how gorgeous our great state is; those that live here know it already. Let's come up with ideas to send to our local guides so we can help solve the problem of tourist dollars being lost due to poor salmon returns as a community.

In the meantime, the message to the tourists? Be extremely patient, and take Alaska for what it is -- a still wild, wonderful state!

Kara Steele

Kenai

Anchor Point harbor would be boost to peninsula's economy

On June 4, an ordinance establishing the Anchor Point Port and Harbor Service Area for the purpose of a feasibility study and potential construction and maintenance of a port and harbor was reviewed by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.

Anchor Point and the surrounding area is desperately in need of economic development and sustained industry and jobs. The main sustainable income of most shore-line communities of Alaska throughout its history has been from the marine-based industries surrounding its ports and harbors. Anchor Point is one of the few shoreline communities in Alaska not to have a port facility, and this is reflected both industrially and economically.

According to Jim Carter of the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, the Denali Commission has determined that Anchor Point, Nikolaevsk, Happy Valley and Ninilchik are all economically depressed communities. The Denali Commission is a state-federal partnership established by Congress in 1998 to provide critical utilities, infrastructure, and economic support throughout Alaska.

The borough assembly has postponed the decision on this ordinance until June 18. Passage of this ordinance will provide the community of Anchor Point and the Army Corp of Engineers the means to pursue a feasibility study of a harbor in Anchor Point.

A harbor would be a real boost, not only for Anchor Point, but for the surrounding communities as well.

Dan Mumey

Anchor Point

Are conservative students dealt with more harshly than rebels?

I want to raise what I consider to be a red flag concerning the schools in Kenai. The event that drives me to write is having my son sequestered in a conference room because the principal at his school felt his T-shirt was "offensive." The shirt displays a picture of Osama bin Laden with the phrase "Dead man walking" written below it. Except for one teacher and the principal, my son has only heard positive comments about the shirt.

Had this been the only problem with shirts at the school, I would not have allowed him to wear the shirt. My son and I recognize that the shirt was marginal by school standards, but I chose to let him wear it after I had seen what others wore to school. Specifically, a number of other students wear shirts that make a mockery of our Pledge of Allegiance. These shirts start off with "I pledge a grievance against the flag of the United States of America." The principal has assured me that the shirts are addressed when staff becomes aware of them. These shirts are on campus weekly with no apparent consequences for the youth who repeatedly wear them. It is inconceivable to me that the rebellious youths receive no visible sanctions yet those who are more conservative or traditional are separated as dangers to the school.

An example of this occurred during the middle school's graduation exercise. One youth was allowed to walk across the stage, shaking the hands of the administration and those of several teachers, while wearing a straight jacket and mask such as worn by Hannibal Lecter in the movies. If portraying a cannibal was not offensive and full of violence, then I don't see how the T-shirt was. By shaking this young person's hand on stage, the staff tacitly approved his behavior.

I have been told that the school represents the values of the community. I wonder how accurate their view of the community as a whole is. If you feel that the schools do not share your values, then you need to contact the

school board members who were voted in to represent us. Talk with your local administrators about how you think and feel. Become involved in your school.

The school district, as employees of the community, needs the supervision of the community. Those who do not do the job the community hired them to do should be corrected. The many teachers who do a great job, need to be rewarded appropriately.

Michael McBride

Kenai



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